The kids like it and the frogs probably like it even more. Farnet, a networking initiative linking 10 high schools in the far north, means biology students can learn about frog anatomy without having to cut them up, as illustrated above.
The scheme, a partnership between the education ministry and several private sector providers, gives the schools a minimum of 128Kbit/s of bandwidth and a maximum of 512Kbit/s via frame relay, allowing them to link up online and pool their resources.
“The network will allow the schools to function as one unit,” Okaihau College principal John Locke said at the launch earlier this month.
Farnet has huge potential, he says, because it provides the basis for a district-wide virtual department for the subjects maths, science and technology, which will be made available to the schools via TKI (Te Kete Ipurangi), the ministry’s bilingual education portal.
Lea’aetalafo’ou and other students from some of the schools involved travelled to Auckland for the launch.
“There are a lot of students up north who don’t have the opportunity to study subjects like calculus and biology,” says Whangaroa College year 13 student Leigh Albert. Farnet will open up a virtual classroom for all students at the schools in the programme, she says.
The schools are Bay of Islands College, Kaitaia College, Northland College in Kaikohe, Kerikeri High School, Okaihau College, Broadwood Area School, Opononi Area School, Panguru Area School, Whangaroa College and Taipa Area School.
The private sector partners in Farnet are IBM, Telecom, Renaissance, Compaq and Microsoft.
Farnet is one of several schemes being run under the government’s Digital Opportunities project and is also part of the Learning Communities initiative, in which TVNZ, INL and NZ Post are also partners.